When it comes to the development space within philanthropic organizations, there are typically two ideologies that characterize our efforts: Science and Art. What are tried and true methods of philanthropy, fundraising, and giving?

Science is a structured world that is much needed in the field. Are there techniques we can follow to ensure we are optimizing our outputs and outcomes?

Art is a feeling, a moment, a way of being which ebbs and flows based on the needs of the community or an organization.

These two ideologies must continually perform an intricate dance when it comes to development, advancement, and fundraising. One cannot live without the other, yet one cannot become dominant.

A healthy tension must be ever-present.

The Patterson Foundation (TPF) has a strategic partnership with The Fund Raising School (TFRS) located at Indiana University, which is the hallmark of TPF's Fueling Dynamic Fundraising (FDF) initiative.

FDF was created in response to feedback gathered through multiple listening sessions with local nonprofit leaders. In each session, the desire for training and development around sustainable fundraising strategies and board involvement surfaced as an issue facing regional nonprofits. As a result, TPF created FDF to explore the power of the partnership between a nonprofit's board, staff, and CEO within the context of fundraising. Through an orientation webinar and a six-week virtual course custom-designed in collaboration with TFRS, nonprofits uncover the significance and possibilities resulting from a strong and vibrant board/staff/CEO partnership dynamic and how it can inform a successful fundraising program.

FDF demonstrated the need for tension in our development efforts. Science is on full display when listening to the data which drives TFRS. Each course from TFRS is heavily wrapped in data showing the realities on the ground of the philanthropic sector. Whether it's the Giving USA reports or other research endeavors of the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, there is no shortage of information that can help steer our development efforts.

Art is exhibited through the human aspect. The nuances of knowing our donors as people, listening well, and understanding life circumstances are all examples of how Art can be a part of development. There is no formula for listening or being present. Rather, we adapt and open our minds to what works best for individual situations, understanding that each interaction must be capable of evolving.

When the tension of an instrument's strings is perfectly balanced and in tune, what results is a symphonic auditory experience.

When our fundraising efforts, combining Science and Art, are perfectly in tune and balanced, we can see our efforts accelerating beyond our wildest dreams.

Advancement is not only crucial to an organization, but it is also a way to help unlock the generosity gene in others. Our goal as fundraisers mustn't simply be to ensure financial sustainability for our beloved organizations (although the importance of this should not be understated). It is also a chance to move our communities forward by engaging others in their own journey to generosity. A community experiencing a generosity revolution spurred on by the efforts of individuals and organizations balancing Science and Art within the philanthropic sector is certainly a community to be a part of.

May we be a community that holds seemingly competing ideologies in perfect tension. And let us watch our neighbors, organizations, and community thrive as a result.

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